The Inn at Elk River has been a dream come true for three Gaston County, NC couples who restored the Colonial-style inn.
John and Malinda Lowery, Bill and Loretta Dodgen, and Richard and Ann Miller are longtime friends and business partners who used to vacation together and dreamed of one day owning a bed and breakfast. "Our children grew up together," say the owners of the inn. "We went on vacation in Vermont and said we should get an inn someday."
Five years later, in May of 1996, the idle talk became an earnest search for just the right place to open a bed and breakfast inn. "We looked at a lot of them," Lowery says of the many potential inns. "When we saw this place it was like...we've arrived!" The Inn at Elk River has now been under the ownership of these 6 longtime friends for the past 15 years.
The location is ideal for a wide range of activities including shopping, fly fishing, hiking, golfing, or simply enjoying sitting on the deck with a good book.
"Hard work, elbow grease and sacrifice have made the dream of The Inn at Elk River a reality," says the owners of the inn.
Formerly known as the Manning House, built in 1989, The Inn at Elk River is a replica of a Colonial Williamsburg structure and even features a shaker roof.
All three couples have had a hand in everything that went into making the inn a success. "Maintaining a white glove standard in an inn where warmth and a homey atmosphere are prized is one of the group's major goals for business", says Lowery. He continues, "We want it to be as nice as if we were having people staying over at our own homes."
The guests of The Inn at Elk River can enjoy a gourmet breakfast that varies each morning of their stay, including Farmer's casserole, stuffed French toast and pancakes. "To stand back and watch the guest enjoying breakfast is really neat," Mrs. Lowery says. " They make these new friends and have conversations back and forth across the dining room."
Special touches such as the fireplaces in several of the guest rooms keep customers coming back for more. "The fireplaces are used year round. They are part of the atmosphere and the setting," Lowery says.
Initially the couples took turns spending their weekends as innkeepers, while the Millers made Banner Elk their permanent home. Now the owners fill in occasionally, but primary management is handled by the innkeeper.
"Guests often write thank-you notes to the innkeeper who have encouraged guests to pad around in their socks by the fire in the guest room, enjoy the area attractions, and feel at home during their stay," says Mrs. Miller.
The group's commitment to providing guests with an excellent bed, breakfast and dining experience has contributed to the success of The Inn at Elk River, the couples agree.